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  Boardman’s Grid Season Opens Away Against Highly-Touted Austintown Fitch  
  18 Lettermen Return For The Spartans:   August 20, 2020 Edition  
     last year’s edition of the Div. II Boardman Spartans football team didn’t meet its goal of a third, straight playoff appearance.
      With a proposed six-game schedule under guidelines from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, due to the COVID-19 event, all schoolboy teams in the state will be given an opportunity to participate in playoff action.
      Following week four of the ‘regular season,’ all teams will be eligible to participate in a ‘playoff game.’ If a team loses in the first round, it can still add two more games to its ‘regular season’ slate.
      The sidelines will be different, players and coaches must stand six -feet apart, and the ‘team sideline’ has been extended to the 10-yard line.
      Referees are not supposed to handle the football, that the offensive team will take back into the huddle for the next play. The refs will mark the line of scrimmage with a bean bag.
      As of Sat., Aug., 15, less than two weeks away from the start of the season, guidelines had not been issued governing fan attendance, although some local athletic directors suggest the possibility of between 1,200 and 1,500 fans at sites like Boardman Stadium; and at prep games at Stambaugh Stadium.
      Coming off a 3-7 log last year, Boardman is scheduled to open the season Fri., Aug. 28 at Falcon Stadium against Austintown Fitch. (7:00 p.m. kickoff).
      The Falcons drubbed the Spartans, 40-14 last season and return junior quarterback Devon Sherwood, and junior tailback Tyree Martin.
      In a last season victory over the Spartans, Sherwood connected on 20 of 23 passes good for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran the ball 14 times for another 66 yards and two TDs.
      Under the direction of Joe Ignazio, who enters his eighth season at the helm, the Spartans return 18 lettermen and have 15 seniors on their roster.
      Those lettermen include junior tailback Sean O’Horo, who carried the ball 190 times last season for 825 yards and five TDs; return specialist and wide receiver, Terence Thomas, a junior, who had 45 catches for 554 yards and four TDs last season; and Cam Thompson, a senior, who had 26 grabs for 269 yards and seven TDs a season ago.
      Anchors on the offensive and defensive fronts include 6-3, 280-lbs. Cortland Love, a junior; Joe Sferra, 6-3, 260 lbs; and Nick Winsen, 6-2, 260 lbs., a senior; and Jake Powell, 6-2, 225 lbs.; and Ryan Henry, 6-1, 240 lbs., a senior.; and Anthony Micco, 6-6, 240 lbs., a senior.
      Boardman enters its game against Fitch without its projected starting quarterback, Jason Triveri, a 6-2, 195 lb., a junior. Triveri has been out of practice with an ankle injury.
      Stepping in at the quarterback spot is expected to be Terence Thomas, with junior Colin Thomas in a back-up role.
      Due to the pandemic, Coach Ignazio’s team has not had any scrimmages.
      “One benefit is we have had more practice time and inter-squad scrimmages,” the coach said.
      With Terrance Thomas under center, Boardman’s opener against the Falcons will likely see O’Horo and Nate Fleming in the backfield with Marco Stilliana, Ashton LeBelle and perhaps Fernando Oritz seeing some time.
      Up front, players who will see action include Sferra, Winsen, Micco, Henry and Love.
      A large corps of receivers have shown well during the pre-season, including Thomas and Thompson. Others who could see action include Anthony Hightower and Brayden Joseph.
      The defense front for the Spartans includes Love, Winsen, Powell and Henry, and at the lineback posts are Ritchy Evans, Blaine Strines, and Fleming and Luke Huzicka.
      The Spartans secondary will see Stilliana, Thompson, O’Horo, Hightower and Strines on the field; and they will likely get an immediate test when they face Sherwood and the Falcons.
      Ignazio’s coaching staff this season includes Mike Popio Sr., Carmen Tarantino, Mike Popio Jr., Paul Butto, Bob Toth, Jason Congo, Jason Triveri, Bob Poghan, Joe Caruso and Devin Campbell (a Boardman grad who played at the University of Buffalo and ended his career as the school’s all-time leading kick returner).
      The Boardman-Fitch grid series dates back to 1942, when the Falcons won, 26-13.
      The Spartans have beaten a Fitch team only since 2012, and that was a 10-3 game in 2015.
      Fitch owns a 36-34-1 advantage in the overall series between the two schools.
      Fri., Aug. 28: Austintown.............away
      Fri., Sept. 4: Youngstown East........home
      Fri., Sept. 11: Ursuline..............home
      Fri., Sept. 18: Howland...............away
      Fri., Sept. 25: Cardinal Mooney.......home
      Fri., Oct. 2: Canfield................home
      Oct. 10: Playoff......................TBA
      Fri., Oct. 16: Massillon Jackson......home*
      Fri. Oct. 23: Youngstown Chaney..home*
      (*Games, if played, depend on outcome of playoffs.)
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